The former owner of a Connellsville used car dealership and his car salesman are wanted by federal agents for allegedly defrauding the unemployment benefits system.
Authorities say they falsified applications for jobless benefits for themselves and others, while also taking a cut of the funds others received during the covid pandemic, according to federal court documents.
Joshua DeWitt, 36, who was the owner of RC Auto Sales on Snyder Street, and his salesman, Terrence L. “Terry” Newmeyer, Jr., 45, both of Connellsville, were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh.
The pair are accused of filing fraudulent applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits designed for workers and Paycheck Protection Program loans, according to federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh.
Both were indicted on conspiracy to commit mail fraud and bank fraud, and two counts of mail fraud.
A federal judge in Pittsburgh signed the arrest warrants for the pair on Tuesday.
DeWitt and Newmeyer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Both DeWitt and Newmeyer are accused of defrauding the special benefits programs of about $340,000 in the complex scheme.
Facing state charges, too
They have been charged by the state police with more than 5,700 counts of some 260 charges of operating a corrupt organization, dealing in illegal proceeds and aiding in the commission of a crime.
Nine other people also have been charged in the scheme. DeWitt and Newmeyer face a preliminary hearing Thursday before Connellsville District Judge Nathan Henning.
The federal indictment alleges the pair fraudulently filed some benefits for themselves and for other, unnamed people, from April 2020 to July 2021. The indictment did not state how much money they allegedly received through the false applications.
DeWitt and Newmeyer used the fraudulently obtained pandemic benefits to benefit themselves, RC Auto Sales and employees by, among other things, accepting the money as payment for vehicles the dealership sold and for repair services it provided, the indictment stated.
The grand jury found that the pair misrepresented the nature of the money for which they had people submit applications, claiming the federal dollars could be used to buy cars from RC Auto Sales.
In some instances, the recipients of the fraudulently obtained benefits were told to come to the dealership to get their debit cards with the unemployment benefits loaded onto the card, withdraw cash from a bank, then give the pair the money, according to the indictment.
The pair requested a “filing fee” from those whom they fraudulently filed for benefits, the indictment said.
“This matter was a two-year investigation in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Police and the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower.
Bower said his office developed “a thorough and detailed case” against the pair and contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh to review the investigation.
As of May, the state Attorney General’s Office had charged close to three dozen people with fraudulently obtaining more than $3 million in Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits.
In May, a former Monessen resident, Amanda Fairfax, 37, was sentenced in Pittsburgh to 18 months in a federal prison on her conviction on five counts of mail fraud involving a different case. Federal prosecutors said Fairfax falsely filed claims for the PUA benefits in the names of five people in June and July 2020, sending $66,240 to two addresses associated with Fairfax.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe by email at email@example.com or via Twitter .